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Williams-Transco Plotting Coastal Invasion of Florida

Williams-Transco Plotting Coastal Invasion of Florida

Florida Gas Transmission may not be the only interstate trunkline in Florida if Williams-Transco succeeds in its plan for an underwater pipeline from offshore Mobile Bay through the Gulf of Mexico to landfall near Tampa on Florida's southwest coast.

Michael Cathey, Williams manager of project development for southern markets, said the company has been monitoring the Florida market for the last couple of years. He cited the recent hot summer as heightening awareness of the need for additional power generating capacity in Florida. Also, factors include recent Environmental Protection Agency regulations favoring gas and a recent report calling for an additional 10,000 MW of generating capacity in Florida by 2007.

Cathey said FGT has about 1.5 Bcf/d of capacity in Florida now. "And we basically would be targeting the incremental load on top of that, the growth."

And there's plenty of growth. Much of the increased gas demand in Florida is expected to fuel new gas-fired power generation. In mid-July, the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council submitted a plan to the Florida Public Service Commission outlining the need for more than 10,000 MW of additional power generation capacity within the state by 2007. If fueled entirely by gas, this would require an additional 1.5 Bcf/d of capacity.

Power demand is soaring in Florida, particularly in the southwestern portion, where currently there are no gas pipelines. That's going to change soon, however. The state's only interstate gas trunkline, Florida Gas Transmission (FGT), recently announced plans for its fourth expansion since going into service (See NGI Oct. 5, 1998). The cornerstone of the new project is a 100-mile southern extension to Fort Myers from existing facilities near Tampa.

Williams' pipe would run from Transco Station 82 in the Mobile Bay area offshore to landfall in the Tampa area. Cathey said Williams is not targeting the Fort Meyers area initially but could do so in the future. Williams is planning an open season later this year and hopes to have a new pipe in service in 2002 for the summer cooling season.

"Williams looks forward to pursuing expansion opportunities in what has become one of the fastest growing natural gas markets in the country," said Frank Ferazzi, vice president of customer service and rates, Williams Gas Pipeline-Transco. "As always, Williams is committed to responding to the market's rapidly changing needs across the nation and providing economical solutions to satisfy those needs while minimizing public and environmental impact."

Florida Power &amp Light Co. (FPL) has formed an alliance with FGT. FPL plans to re-power its Fort Myers generation plant in southwest Florida by 2001 and expects to need more than 180 MMcf/d of additional gas supply as well as about 100 miles of new 24- or 30-inch diameter pipeline, which FGT has agreed to provide. The new FGT extension would begin at existing facilities in Hillsborough County near Tampa and run through Polk, Hardee, DeSoto, Charlotte and Lee counties to Fort Myers.

FPL plans to add 2,500 MW of gas-fired power, the majority of which will be added at Fort Myers. The plant will undergo a major re-powering over the next three years that will triple its capacity through the addition of new gas-fired turbines. By 2001, FPL expects to need more than 180 MMcf/d of additional gas supply to fuel the 1,400 MW plant. Electricity needs of southwest Florida are growing 40% faster than the rest of FPL's service territory, and re-powering with new gas turbines offers the best opportunity to meet that need, the utility said. While FGT has almost 5,000 miles of pipeline to serve the needs of Florida, none of that gas reaches southwest Florida.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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